Britney Spears was OK the first time. Her role as dim-witted, innocent secretary to Ted’s love interest Stella worked in small doses inside the office setting. Tonight, Britney stretched her legs at the bar, in a cab and in her apartment. She’s not hopeless as an actor – given the right words to speak, you can believe her. However, the slightest bit of “acting” she has to do means over-acting will occur. She’s got that baby voice she falls back on, and it gets a bit annoying. Her chemistry with Neil Patrick Harris, whom she spent all scenes with tonight (and, unfortunately, vice versa), is non-existent. If we consider Britney’s first How I Met Your Mother appearance a success (which we probably have to, on a number of levels) her work tonight was a bit of a disappointment. This may have more to do with the overall quality of the episode tonight rather than Britney herself – if her first episode wasn’t so damn all-around good, she probably would have been ripped to shreds the first time.
Contrary to the CBS promos, How I Met Your Mother was about Lilly and Marshall tonight. Marshall has bad news – it’s going to cost a lot more to fix the floors of their new apartment than they had anticipated. They need $1,500 and quick. Marshall has set up a website to sell off Lilly’s designer wardrobe. Lilly doesn’t want to part with her clothes, but when Lilly throws out the idea of selling her paintings Marshall accidentally lets slip that he doesn’t consider Lilly a seller-worthy painter. Upset, Lilly asks for a week to prove him wrong and sell paintings.
She has no such luck in a gallery, coffee shop or on the street with the drug addicts. A gay couple buys one painting, giving Lilly hope, but it turns out they just wanted the frame. Later, a veterinarian picks up her thrown away painting and puts it up in his office – Lilly’s paintings end up having a very soothing effect on dogs. The vet buys four paintings at $500 a pop.
Barney and Ted are still broken up, and Barney enlists Abby (Britney Spears) in a silly ploy to show Ted how stupid his monogamous ways are. He pretends to be in a relationship with Abby, and fake proposes to her in the bar. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense – when Barney wants to make a point, he usually makes it pretty well. He failed here, and you could tell that his storyline was simply the best way the writers could shoe-horn Britney into the episode.
Robin and Ted mostly sit on the sidelines tonight, but share slight C-stories. Ted tries to “pull off” a pair of absurd red cowboy boots. Robin is one of the vultures purchasing Lilly’s clothes off the website. They are the funniest parts of the episode.
As far as I’m concerned, this was the second mediocre How I Met Your Mother episode in a row. The laughs just weren’t there, and again I’ll chalk it up as a rush job resulting from the writers’ strike. I’m hoping for better things from the finale, but who knows? The most important part: How I Met Your Mother has been renewed for another season. One reason why the episode felt so tepid was the lack of any story-telling tricks. There were only a couple flashbacks, and they were of the very minor variety. Even so, I simply did not laugh as much as I usually do during How I Met Your Mother.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of CBS)